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New school nears completion at former diner site

It’s official: children will learn to read where Bronxites once wolfed down eggs and bacon.

In September, the Department of Education will launch a new elementary school at Boston Road and Baychester Avenue – site of the late Baychester Diner – spokesman Will Havemann announced Monday, February 2. The new school, P.S. 169, has been named Great Expectations Academy.

“We’re going to take this school to the next level,” said Bronx-born principal Cristine Vaughan, an educator and data analyst. “Our goal is to provide Baychester with high-quality instruction, 21st century skills and old-fashioned values.”

On Thursday, January 29, Community Education Council members voted to rezone School District 11. Great Expectations Academy will enroll neighborhood kids, relieving pressure on existing schools.

“This is good. Anything to help with overcrowding,” said Elaine Bryan, parent of a second grader at Adee Avenue’s P.S. 76.

Great Expectations Academy is currently under construction. The four-story school will contain 416 seats – pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. In 2009-2010, Great Expectations will enroll pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade students.

Vaughan began her career as a teacher at P.S. 87 on Bussing Avenue. She’s high on technology.

“I’m thrilled to be back in the Bronx, not far form where I started,” Vaughan said. “Technology will be our hook. If we embed technology into a rigorous curriculum, our students will have a greater chance of success in high school and beyond.”

Vaughan plans to utilize interactive whiteboards, cameras, laptop computers and iPods.

Great Expectations Academy is one of 26 new schools and 22 new school buildings set to open in 2009-2010 citywide.

Five Bronx schools are moving and Soundview’s James Monroe High School campus will add The Cinema School, a selective high school for budding filmmakers.

A non-profit organization will run The Cinema School and offer a six-week film production class taught by industry professionals.

“I am proud that the Cinema School will be located in the Bronx,” borough president Adolfo Carrion, Jr. said. “These are the types of innovative new school options that our students and families deserve.”

The existing Bronx schools scheduled for new digs are Jonas Bronck Academy, Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists, Peace and Diversity Academy, Metropolitan High School and Mott Hall V Middle School.

Ahmed Orange runs the Get Fresh Barbershop on Baychester Avenue, down the block from Great Expectations Academy. Get Fresh stands to benefit from a stream of potential customers: teachers, parents and students.

“I think any school is great, because this neighborhood is so congested,” Orange said. “Houses are going up every day.”

Still, Orange was sad to see the Baychester Diner go.

“That was my late night spot,” the barber said. “Always open, professional and cozy at the same time. You could go in there after the club, or Sundays with your family. After it closed, the community changed.”

When she taught at P.S. 87, Vaughan and her colleagues held evening meetings at the Baychester Diner, she said.

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